Hello world!: An introduction

This is the blog for the working session for the Nov ASTR/CORD conference in Seattle: Nursing a Beautiful Bastard: Dance Theatre in Theory and Practice. Let’s take a moment for all participants to introduce themselves.

My name is Carrie Ahern and I am co-presenting with Jeffrey Frace. Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to NYC 15 years ago to dance and soon after, to choreograph. I now have my own dance company, Carrie Ahern Dance, that is rooted in the dance community (because of my training, my history, my beliefs) but also lies somewhere in between dance, performance art, weird research and theatre. Each work I put my name on involves a deep collaboration not only with my dancers, but with a composer, visual artists, actors, sometimes scholars or people who have expertise in a certain area. However, when I formed my company in 2005, I specifically chose to place dance in the title. Why did I make that choice?  www.carrieahern.com

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7 Responses to Hello world!: An introduction

  1. This is Jeffrey Fracé, and I’m co-leading this working group with Carrie. I’ve been making theatre professionally for just over 20 years, mostly as an actor, but also as director, writer and producer. Most of this time I’ve been based in New York, and the main hub of my training and professional associations has been SITI Company. It’s the technique called the Viewpoints, as adapted by Anne Bogart and her company, that provided me with a language with which to begin working with dancers and choreographers. In 1999 I co-founded an ensemble with choreographers Pavel Zustiak, Elizabeth Haselwood and Dixie Shulman. Although we only worked together for a couple years in this context, our experiments in combining theatrical elements with dance continue to inform my work. Since that time I’ve continued to make both dances and plays, both as creator and performer, and some of this work resists categorization until the very last marketing deadline. I am currently teaching acting and movement for actors at University of Washington’s Professional Actors Training Program. http://www.jeffreyfrace.com

  2. Todd Coulter says:

    This is Todd Coulter, a relatively new Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance at Colby College. I’m walking the fence between theater and dance and academia and practical work. Our department is Theater and Dance and while on paper and soon to be in deed our students do both, they still do both separately. Getting a new generation of students to think through the traditional binary of theater or dance is our new task. My own work has been pretty parochial in either dance or theater, unless we include musical theater as some sort cousin to our bastard. I want to start creating work in the city that brings dance/theater together in more blurred ways than say Bausch or DV8 (just as easy examples). I split my time between New York and Maine, or pretend to. I don’t have a pretty personal site like Jeffrey and Carrie.

  3. Hello everyone. My name is Peter Dickinson, and I teach in the English Department at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Although trained as a literary scholar, my main interests are in theatre, film, and performance (broadly defined), and I’ve just published a book called World Stages, Local Audiences: Essays on Performance, Place, and Politics (Manchester UP, 2010). I also sit on the Board of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver.

    I’ve long had an interest (as both spectator and researcher) in dance-theatre, and together with colleagues in the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU (whom you’ll soon meet), I’m currently collaborating on an original work of dance-theatre called The Objecthood of Chairs. I’ve supplied the script; Rob Kitsos is providing original choreography; Rob Groeneboer video projections; and DD Kugler direction and dramaturgy. We open September 8th here in Vancouver, and we hope to use our experiences in rehearsal and performance to contribute to the conversation we’ll be developing here.

  4. My name is Jamila Rodrigues, I am a master student at UCT School of Dance in South Africa. Hoping to join ‘Nursing a beautiful bastard’ in Seattle this year.
    I am professional choreographer and performer, I studied dance in Lisbon and finished my studies at Northumbria University, UK.
    My masters research is about amaXhosa people from South Africa, particularly interested in women and their stories. My wish is to gather the information about a community of women I have receive during my time in Cape Town and transform their stories in a dance theatre style.
    My dance background is contemporary dance, but I also practice African dance, Capoeira and Break Dance, hoping to melt these together.
    My interest in joining you is to discuss the current situation of dance theatre in South Africa coming from a European perspective, and to have a open conversation in each one of us can share their experiences in the matter.
    Any further information please feel free to ask!
    Be well and happy….
    Jamila Rodrigues

  5. Hi all, I’m Meagan Bruskewicz. I graduated in 2008 from Muhlenberg College (in Pennsylvania) with a BA in Dance. The summer before my senior year I attended the American Dance Festival, where I danced and conducted a research project on trends in contemporary choreography. At ADF, I noticed a growing interest in dance theater works, and my study seemed to confirm that the newer the piece, the more likely it was to include theatrical elements, props/sets, technology, and non-traditional movements (or pedestrian movement). This began my interest in the fusing of artistic forms. For my senior project, I choreographed a solo on myself that included spoken text, voice over, video projection, trumpet playing, props, and a bit of actual dancing. Now, I am living and dancing in NYC, continuing to think about the mixing of forms, and seeking choreographers that embrace fusion and work more in a dance theater aesthetic. As an audience member, I also prefer watching dance theater works, though I still recognize that there is a place and purpose for pure dance as well. While currently performing, I am also pursuing a future path of dance research/writing/teaching/advocating or wherever else the road leads me. Toward this end, I continue to do my own research and reflection on the world of dance and enjoy discussing various topics on my own dance blog (www.languageofthesoul.wordpress.com). I am very much looking forward to exploring this idea further with everyone, here and at the conference.

  6. Elizabeth Lentz says:

    Hi, all. I am Elizabeth Lentz, and I have been a dance theater artist, presenter, and teacher for 14 years. My background is primarily in dance. I was a typical ballet bun-head until college, where I fell in love with gravity, contact improvisation, and modern dance. Once I graduated I began performing with dance theater companies in Chicago and Nashville––primarily Lucky Plush Productions, Chicago Moving Company, Breakbone Dance Company, and Tennessee Dance Theatre. In addition to performing, I taught Body Movement for Actors I and II, ballet and modern dance for 6 years at Columbia College Chicago. This past June I received my MFA in Dance from the University of Washington (where I worked with and subbed for Jeffrey in the School of Drama’s movement classes), and on August 18 I begin a new job as Assistant Professor of Dance at University of Southern Mississippi.
    As a performer, I have loved the opportunity to use more than physical expression to chew on an idea. Combining text, video, thematic work, and dramatic intent with the kinesthetic delights of dance leads to the kind of work I love to perform… but is it dance theater or physical theater? Do we care? As a teacher, I’ve grappled with how best to prepare students to make and perform these works. We rarely address dance theater aspects in a dance technique class, and undergraduate actors are lucky to get one, maybe two movement classes in the curriculum. How do we get these movement artists thinking about a full range of expression? And lastly, I co-founded and co-produce The Other Dance Festival in Chicago every fall. I’ve seen numerous companies tack “dance theatre” on at the end of their name. Does it really count if they primarily present abstract work? These questions inform who I am as an artist and educator, and I look forward to hashing them out with you all.

  7. DD Kugler says:

    Hello all. (I go by Don, DD, and Kugler — you choose). My background is as a freelance director and dramaturg (in theatre and in dance). After baseline gigs as Production Dramaturg with Necessary Angel Theatre in Toronto (1986-93) and as Artistic Director of Northern Light Theatre in Edmonton (1993-98), I took a position in the Theatre Area of the School for the Contemporary Arts at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University where I teach directing, dramaturgy, playmaking, and adaptations of classical texts (Greek tragedies & Shakespeare).

    When English Professor Peter Dickinson brought me his script, The Objecthood of Chairs, it seemed an ideal text from which to launch an interdisciplinary project with my colleagues in the School for Contemporary Arts. Quickly coming on board with Peter and I were choreographer Rob Kitsos, videographer Rob Groeneboer, composer Martin Gotfrit, lighting designer Barry Hegland, and two recent graduates (one in dance, the other in theatre).

    We’ve held workshops (2 hours twice a week since January) to develop facility with the text, to generate a movement vocabulary, to shoot video sequences, and to compose a range of musical scores. Soon we will begin three weeks of rehearsal to integrate the various parallel disciplinary responses to the text, leading to performances during the first two weeks of the fall term.

    We hope that our experiences nursing this beautiful bastard will usefully contribute to the conversation in November.

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